I’m sure you’ve found yourself in online natural hair forums filled with users that have been there for years and most of them have long, very detailed conversations about their hair journeys and share tips and techniques they use in their own routines. That being said, I’m sure you’ve noticed there are a lot of terms and abbreviations used and sometimes it’s hard to figure them out. This is a list of natural hair terminology I’ve picked up over the years and I’m constantly adding new items to this list as I continue to discover more.
So, keep reading because at the end you’ll be able to join in on the numerous online conversations going on like a pro!
DISCLAIMER: Some abbreviations are the same for multiple oils, so when participating in online forums or hanging out on social media, it may be necessary to ask which oil is being referenced with a particular abbreviation.
Aria’s Natural Hair Terminology Cheat Sheet
I’m going to try to keep this list as organized as possible, so each section of this list is going to be broken up into different categories based on type of abbreviation or term/phrase.
Carrier Oil Abbreviations
I wanted to start with the carrier oils because those are the abbreviations that stumped me when I was newly natural. It’s a whole hell of a lot easier to follow along in a conversation about oils (a product that’s in every natural’s routine) when you’re already familiar with what each abbreviation stands for.
- EVOO– Extra virgin olive oil
- CO– coconut oil (is also used as the abbreviation for castor oil)
- AO– Avocado oil (also used as an abbreviation for argan oil).
- EVCO- extra virgin coconut oil (it’s the same as unrefined coconut oil)
- CPCO– cold pressed castor oil
- JBCO– Jamaican black castor oil
- HBCO– Haitian black castor oil
- SAO– sweet almond oil
- WGO– wild growth oil (this could also be considered an essential oil because it contains a mixture of essentials along with carrier oils.
- JO-jojoba oil
- KO– Kukui oil
- GSO/GO– Grapeseed oil
- RPO-Red palm oil
- BO– Nope, this doesn’t stand for body odor this time, it’s actually the abbreviation for Babassu oil.
- EO– Emu Oil
Essential Oil Abbreviations
The second set of abbreviations that stumped me prior to becoming familiar with natural hair terminology were the essential oil abbreviations, especially since when I first went natural I didn’t even know what essential oils were.
- RO- rosemary oil
- TO/TTO– tea tree oil
- PO/PEO– peppermint oil/ peppermint essential oil
- EO– eucalyptus oil
- LO– lavender oil
- CEO– Cedarwood essential oil. The “E” was added within the natural hair community to distinguish this from castor and coconut oil abbreviations.
- YO– Ylang Ylang oil
- OEO– orange essential oil
- LGO/LO– lemongrass oil or lemon oil
While these abbreviations are usually easier to figure out online since these are usually only used when answering questions in online forums that are about a specific brand or product, but I felt the need to include them because they’re still useful to know.
- SM- Shea Moisture
- AIA- As I Am
- MO– Mielle Organics
- MC– Mane Choice
- EB– Not the eggs! This one stands for Eden Bodyworks
- CR/CRN– Camille Rose or Camille Rose Naturals
- NYM– Not Your Mother’s
- AJ– Aunt Jackie’s
- MJ– Miss Jessie’s
- BT– Beautiful Textiures
- CD– Carol’s Daughter
- TW– Talijah Waahid
- RP– Renpure
- MM– Maui Moisture
General Natural Hair Terminology
This section of natural hair terms are just general definitions of certain slang or jargon within the natural hair community. Trust me, you’ll definitely want to know these, especially if you frequent YouTube for your hair care advice and tutorials.
You’ll definitely see these terms used eventually, so why not be prepared when you do, right?
- Staple(s)- a product or group of products you’ll always buy as long as the formula remains the same and it isn’t discontinued. This is also referred to as a “Holy Grail” product.
(Example: “I love this leave-in conditioner! It’s one of my staples!”)
- CoWash– the act of using a cleansing conditioner or rinse out conditioner in place of shampoo.
Check out my post “What Is A CoWash?” to learn the benefits of cowashing your hair
- Product Haul– binge shopping for products. You’re gonna need a shopping cart or a small basket in order to carry everything to your car.
- Wash N’ Go- This is a hair style in which you apply products and let your hair air dry after washing it. It’s also a favorite for those who have mastered this style (it can be tricky for type 4 naturals to pull this style off due to shrinkage) that prefer low manipulation styles.
Even though achieving this style can be tricky when first starting out, it’s possible to rock this style with type 4, high porosity hair. If you’re interested in learning how to achieve this style, check out How To Get Wash N’ Go Hair
- Shrinkage– Refers to how much shorter your hair looks when dry as opposed to when it’s wet.
- Low Manipulation Style– A hairstyle in which you only have to restyle or refresh once or twice a week instead of having to restyle your hair daily.
- Protective Style– A hairstyle that can be worn for weeks without having to be restyled. This includes styles that include extensions or hair packs as well as long term styles done with your natural hair only.
- Hair Regimen/Routine– your personal hair care habits and techniques.
- Carrier Oils– natural oils that can be used straight out the bottle on your scalp and are great to use as a base for DIY oil mixtures.
- D.I.Y– Do It Yourself
- Essential Oils– extremely potent oils that come in super small bottles that are NOT safe to use straight out the bottle on your skin or hair (as they may cause you to develop an allergic reaction or irritation when used unmixed) and should always be mixed with a carrier oil prior to application.
- Wash Day- the day you wash your hair.
Benefits Of Knowing Natural Hair Terminology
Besides being able to carry on a conversation about natural hair, you’ll also be more confident when reading reviews about products when people choose to use abbreviations.
Sometimes others just assume we all know what they know, but unfortunately that means those of us who DON’T know natural hair terminology have to stop, look up what they’re talking about (and hope we got the answer from a reliable source) then we’ll have to remember it on a whim.
You wouldn’t want to think someone meant avocado oil when they use the abbreviation “AO” when they actually meant Argan oil. Each oil has different benefits and if you’re looking for the benefits of Argan oil you wouldn’t want to end up with avocado oil results.
It Never Seems To End
I keep seeing new abbreviations each day, so don’t be surprised if you see some abbreviations online that aren’t on this list. I’ll do my best to keep up with the new natural hair terminology I discover, so this list will be one that continues to grow over time.
Now, that being said…
What are some natural hair terms you’ve seen online that you didn’t know existed? Have you discovered any new products or oils while learning these new terms? Leave your comment below! We can all learn from each other!